2019 Aces Player’s Championship: Season 8 Wraps

Posted on May 19 2019 - 6:00am by DV

Salt Lake City, UT, WPH Press, 5/19/19-

Day 3: Sunday

The 2019 R48, WR48, and SR48 Player’s Championships were on the line on Sunday at the Sports Mall, as the game’s elite aimed to seize the WPH Player’s Championship Belts and etch their names into Race 4 Eight history.

R48 Final: Carroll vs. Danos

Killian Carroll entered Sunday’s final in search of his fourth consecutive Player’s Championship title, while Danos Cordova was making his first appearance in a Player’s Championship final. Carroll entered the final on the heels of a scintillating and grueling two-hour semifinal battle with Lucho Cordova that had more twists and turns than a roller coaster, while Danos dominated four of the five games he played on Saturday.

Carroll showed no signs of fatigue following a grueling Saturday night semifinal with Lucho Cordova, flying across the court with reckless abandon and keeping Danos on the run. The game was highly competitive, with both R48 stars able to handle one another’s best serves and shots. Carroll led 12-10 in a game that was impossible to predict. Carroll applied more pressure on the business end of the first game, going for his kills with both hands and clinching the one-game lead, 15-11.

Just as Danos had done to Sean Lenning in game two of their Saturday night semifinal, Carroll took control from the first ball and never allowed Danos into the game. Carroll ran away with his fourth consecutive R48 Player’s Championship, putting an exclamation point on his third consecutive year-end #1 season.

“I was tired in the first game but not the second,” stated Danos. “Killian just had me off-balance in game two and I just couldn’t really do anything.”

Final: Carroll def Danos 15-12, 15-3

R48 Playoffs

Paul Brady played in the playoffs for the first time in his R48 career following his quarterfinal loss to Sean Lenning, advancing to the 5th place final with a victory against Vic Perez. Brady met R48 #5 David Fink in the final and was too strong for the SR48 Player’s Champion, downing Fink in a competitive one-game match.

Martin Mulkerrins regrouped after his opening round tiebreaker loss to Lucho Cordova by dominating the 9th place playoffs for the second time this season (Atlanta ’18), ousting Leo Canales, Jr., Fergal Coughlan, Jr., and the R48’s ironman Marcos Chavez to move into the R48’s top 14.

R48 Next Gen Champion Crowned

Ireland’s Peter Funchion clinched the inaugural “R48 Next Gen Cup,” honoring the top 26-and-under rising star on the tour. Surrounded by a more than a dozen R48, WR48, and SR48 stars, Funchion emphatically proclaimed, “I’ll be in the top 8 next season!” Funchion has defeated R48 stars Danos Cordova, Marcos Chavez, and Emmett Peixoto, amongst others, and will be a force on the R48 tour for years to come.

R48 Player’s Championship Finishes

1st: Carroll

2nd: Danos

3rd: Lucho/Lenning

5th: Brady

6th: Fink

7th: Perez/Iglesias

9th: Mulkerrins

10th: Chavez

11th: Pet. Funchion/Coughlan, Jr.

13th: Peixoto/Canales, Jr./O’Connor/Kerr

17th: Cooney

WR48 Final: Casey vs. McMahon

The best rivalry in handball was renewed in the WR48 final, as current Women’s World Champion Martina McMahon met 17-time WR48 champion Catriona Casey for the Player’s Championship. The pair has traded every major championship in the sport in the last two years, with McMahon winning all of the biggest titles in 2018 and Casey rebounding this season by defeating McMahon in the All Ireland 40×20 final. McMahon had defeated Casey in their last WR48 encounter (Tucson, ’17) and was aiming to stop Casey’s Player’s Championship title reign at five years.

Casey and McMahon did not disappoint in the final, showcasing the game at the very highest level. Casey and McMahon were playing chess at warp speed, moving one another from corner to corner and capitalizing on any offensive opportunity. Casey’s commitment to play aggressively was evident from the outset, as the WR48 #1 hit numerous left-handed fly kills and back wall kills. McMahon simply crushed every ball with both hands, with many of the lasers finding the bottom board.

Very little separated the pair in game one, as neither led by more than three at any point. With the game tied at 13, Casey executed a left-hand kill followed by a right-handed dump re kill to take game one. “I’ve been working on that shot and it paid off at that point,” stated Casey.

Tied at five in game two, an apparent lapse in concentration cost McMahon the next eight points. McMahon committed four unforced errors, three of those on relatively simple return of serves and was visibly shaken with her poor play. McMahon rallied, finding her stroke and turning a 14-8 deficit into a 12-14 deficit. McMahon had her favorite left-handed kill lined up for the 13th point but missed by an inch, handing Casey her second opportunity to win the match. Just as she had done in game one, Casey ended the game with a perfectly struck off-speed paddle kill, clinching her record-breaking sixth Player’s Championship.”

“I just love playing the tour and having the opportunity to travel to all of these great venues and competing against the best players,” stated Casey. “I want to thank the WPH and Aces for another great event. See you in Tucson in November!”

Final: Casey def McMahon 15-13, 15-12

WR48 Playoffs

Aoife McCarthy demonstrated her sensational skills in clinching the WR48 5th place playoffs, overcoming Tracy Davis in the final.

WR48 Player’s Championship Finishes

1st: Casey

2nd: McMahon

3rd: Tully/Ni Churraoin

5th: McCarthy

6th: Davis

7th: McCann/Hughes

SR48 Final: Fink vs. Chavez

David Fink and Marcos Chavez met for the sixth consecutive SR48 final, starting with Fink’s first SR48 start last season in Las Vegas. Fink had won four of their first five SR48 encounters, but Chavez entered Sunday’s final as the SR48 Player’s Champion, having defeated Fink in a dramatic SR48 Player’s Championship final last year.

Chavez earned a side out on a Fink error to start the match and converted, scoring 12 of the first 13 points of the match. “I played a great rally on the first rally of the match and earned my favorite setup, a left-handed swing from the short line into the left corner,” stated Fink. “When that shot skipped I had a bad feeling and I was right.”

Chavez caught fire, firing aces down the left and right and hitting one-inch high kills on any ball that touched the back wall. Trailing 1-12, Fink started to climb back into the match. Fink would trail 7-13 and 8-14 but continued to play aggressively. Chavez served for the game four times, each time coming up just short. “Marcos had some really good looks on game point and just missed,” stated WPH ESPN play-by-play announcer Dave Vincent.

Fink would eventually tied the game at 14, only to see Chavez serve for the game for the fifth time at 15-14. Fink earned the side out and scored three consecutive points to steal the game.

Chavez was not sharp to start game two, falling behind 0-6. “At that point I had scored 21 of the last 24 points but I never feel comfortable with Marcos,” stated Fink.

Chavez scored nine consecutive points, finding the groove he felt in the first half of the first game. “I finally relaxed and just started going for my shots,” stated Chavez. “Unfortunately, once I got to nine I tightened up again.”

Fink quickly tied the score at nine and never looked back, ending the match on a 9-0 run to clinch his first SR48 Player’s Championship.”

“Marcos really played great ball today,” stated Fink. “He was really anticipating my shots and making me second-guess my shot selection. I am really thrilled to win. I want to thank the WPH staff and broadcast team for another incredible season and to the Ace Team for being such incredible R48 hosts for the eighth consecutive year.”

Final: Fink def Chavez 17-15, 15-9

SR48 Playoffs

Jim Karner bounced back from a close two-game loss to 4-time SR48 champion Marcos Chavez in the quarterfinals to clinch 5th, defeating New York’s Victor Stevenson in the 5th place final.

SR48 Player’s Championship Finishes

1st: Fink

2nd: Chavez

3rd: Price/Garcia, Jr.

5th: Karner

6th: Stevenson

Thank you!

Thank you to the Aces Team for the eighth consecutive sensational Race 4 Eight Aces event. Special thank you to Lon Stalsberg, Matt Stalsberg, Ruben Garza, and Gary Scogin for donating their money and time to make the Aces Player’s Championship an outstanding event.

Thank you to the WPH staff and broadcast team of David Vincent, David Fink, Lolita de Vincent, Ashley Moler, Shorty Ruiz, Che Lowenstein, Kris Gurrad, Jeff Kastner, Jean Kastner, and Linda Manning for an incredible season. “I’ve never seen a group work so hard and come together like our team this season,” boasted WPH Executive Director Dave Vincent. “The WPH team is so creative, professional, and passionate, and we are so lucky to have this team promoting and growing our great game.”

Special thanks to Steve Soto, Nick Flores, Kevin Price and all who made the 2019 Aces Player’s Championship such an incredible event.

“I want to thank the WPH for the best Race 4 Eight season in history,” barked WPH referee and R48 and SR48 star Pete Papathemetrios. “There is nothing about the tour I would change. I love the format, the broadcasts, and all of the tournaments. Everything about the Race 4 Eight tour is so professional and we are so lucky for what the WPH does to grow this game we all love.”

Follow the brackets for the 2019 Aces Player’s Championship HERE

Watch the 2019 Player’s Championship replays on ESPN3 HERE

Become a WPH Patreon HERE

David Fink

WPH Senior Writer


Salt Lake City, UT, WPH Press, 5/18/19-

Day 2: Saturday

The R48, WR48, and SR48 draws were cut in half on Friday, with Saturday representing the business end of the eighth WPH Player’s Championship.


Killian Carroll’s quest for a fourth consecutive R48 Player’s Championship continued with a clinical two-game victory against four-time R48 8 quarter-finalist Jonathan Iglesias, as Flash defeated Iglesias for the second consecutive event.

Lucho Cordova overcame David Fink for the third time this season to advance to the semifinal, fighting off two game points in overtime in game one and winning the second game in overtime after Fink rallied from 10-14 to tie the game at 14.

Danos Cordova welcomed Lake Forest teammate Vic Perez back from his European vacation with a two-game thrashing, never allowing the LAAC #1 into the match.

Sean Lenning stunned 15-time R48 champion Paul Brady to advance to the semifinals, defeating “The Gunner” for the first time. Lenning led throughout game one, seizing a 10-1 advantage and overcoming a six-point streak from Brady, scoring the final five points of the game. Brady played with more purpose in game two, hitting the ball noticeably harder and grabbing an 11-7 lead. Lenning located his serve and surprised Brady with four off-the-bounce corner kills to score eight of the final nice points of the game. “Sean’s serves and shots were just crazy,” stated Danos after the match.

R48 Round of 8

Carroll def Iglesias 15-5, 15-5

Lucho def Fink 18-16, 16-14

Danos def Perez 15-4, 15-6

Lenning def Brady 15-8, 15-12

Killian Carroll and Lucho Cordova continued their sensational rivalry in the upper bracket semifinal, with both players pushing one another to the limit in a grueling two-hour clash. Carroll started slowly in game one, making six errors to trail 4-8. Carroll tied the score at eight, but Lucho quickly took control of the game. Lucho scored seven of the final eight points of the game, dictating play with his power serve and pushing Carroll from side to side.

With the second game tied at two, Carroll introduced his left-handed serve and completely changed the momentum of the match. Carroll rode the left side glass wall with a nearly perfect natural hop, running away with the game and forcing a tiebreaker. “It definitely threw me off that he was serving with his left, but not only that, the serve was really good,” stated Lucho.

Carroll continued to serve left-handed in game three, quickly building a 6-0 lead. Undeterred, Lucho tied the game at six, setting the stage for a dramatic conclusion. With both players exhausted but still playing sensational handball, Carroll took a 13-11 lead. Lucho appeared to make an incredible diving retrieve, but called a wrist ball on himself, giving Carroll a side out. “That was definitely some of the best sportsmanship I’ve ever seen,” Carroll would later say. Carroll ended the match with two consecutive points, clinching the #1 ranking for the season.

Sean Lenning was in control in game one against Danos, relying on his devastating power serve and “freak” shots to keep Danos off-balance and scrambling. Lenning closed out game one, but had little energy left for the remainder of the match. “I could see Sean was tired and I still had a lot of energy so I just kept playing hard,” stated Danos. Danos outscored Lenning by a combined 30-3 in the second and third games to defeat Lenning for the third time this season.


Carroll def Lucho 8-15, 15-3, 15-11

Danos def Lenning 10-15, 15-3, 15-0

Final: Carroll vs. Danos (Sunday, 11:45 MST)


Catriona Casey kicked off her campaign for her sixth consecutive WR48 Player’s Championship on Saturday, ousting 2019 WR48 Pre Qualifier champion Jenny Schmitt in two games to advance to her 20th consecutive WR48 semifinal. Fiona Tully advanced to her second consecutive WR48 semifinal, defeating Tracy Davis in three games.

Playing in her first WR48 event since winning the 2017 Tucson Memorial, current World Champion Martina McMahon cruised past current 19-and-under Irish national champion Megan McCann, while WR48 #2 Ciana Ni Churraoin advanced to her third semifinal this season by overcoming Aoife McCarthy.

Round of 8

Casey def Schmitt 15-1, 15-0

Tully def Davis 15-10, 12-15, 15-3

McMahon def McCann 15-2, 15-3

Ni Churraoin def McCarthy 15-4, 15-3

Catriona Casey advanced to her 20th consecutive WR48 final by defeating Fiona Tully for the second consecutive event in the semifinal, utilizing her all-court game and shot selection to vanquish her Irish compatriot. “I was glad to have a tough game, Fiona really make me work for it,” stated Casey. “Fiona is the next big thing and it’s great to see the new faces on the tour.”

Ciana Ni Churraoin met Martina McMahon for the first time since 2017 in a clash of two of the game’s superstars. McMahon was in control from the outset, earning offensive opportunities with a great serve to the left and overpowering CNC during the rallies. CNC was unable to generate many offensive opportunities on her serve, leading to a 15-5, 12-5 lead for McMahon.

With defeat seemingly moments away, CNC demonstrated why she is the tour’s #2 player. CNC scored seven consecutive points to tie the game at 12, but could not take the lead, ultimate falling in two games. “This is my first WR48 tournament of the year, I wish I could make them all,” stated McMahon. “I’m just happy to be here and I’m looking forward to the final.”


Casey def Tully 15-3, 15-3

McMahon def Ni Churraoin 15-5, 15-12

Final: Casey vs. McMahon (Sunday 10:45 MST)


The SR48’s third event of the season saw SR48 #1 David Fink and SR48 #2 Marcos Chavez continue to dominate the 40+ circuit, as Fink defeated Reno’s Joe Leonis in the quarterfinals and Colorado’s Kevin Price in the semifinals. Chavez booked his spot in his sixth consecutive SR48 Player’s Championship final by overcoming the “Mad Scientist” Jim Karner in the quarterfinals and fellow Californian George Garcia, Jr. in the semifinals for the second consecutive SR48 event to advance to the final.

Sunday’s SR48 Player’s Championship final will mark the sixth consecutive SR48 final between Fink and Chavez, with Fink winning four of the first five.

Round of 8

Fink def Leonis 15-0, 15-5

Price def Watkins 11-15, 15-8, 15-7

Garcia, Jr. def Papathemetrios 14-4, 15-6

Chavez def Karner 15-13, 15-13


Fink def Price 15-0, 15-3

Chavez def Garcia, Jr. 15-11, 15-3

Final: Fink vs. Chavez (Sunday 9 am MST)

Saturday Night Banquet

The Aces Team hosted their famous Saturday night Player’s Championship party, complete with the best food and fun on the tour. Virtually every player and fan made their way to the Aces headquarters to enjoy the year-end celebration, followed by late-night 3-Wall Big Ball on the Aces 3-Wall courts in the back of the facility. “This is a night that all of the players and staff look forward to attending all season,” stated WPH Development Director David Fink. “Thank you to the Aces Team for opening their doors and throwing the bash of the year!”

Follow the brackets for the 2019 Aces Player’s Championship HERE

2019 Aces Player’s Championship Broadcast Schedule on ESPN3: Sunday, May 19, 10 am-1:30 pm MST.


Become a WPH Patreon HERE

Broadcast Schedule: Watch on ESPN3 & the WatchESPN App! May 17th-19th



Sunday, May 19th – Times are local (MDT) ESPN Broadcast Window:  9a-1p *Later matches could be moved, re-arranged, etc

9:00am – Sr 40+ Men’s Final – David Fink vs Marcos Chavez

9:45am – R48Pro Elite Men’s 9th Final – Marcos Chavez vs Martin Mulkerrins

10:45am – Women’s Pro Final –  Martina McMahon vs Catriona Casey

11:45am – Men’s Pro Final – Killian Carroll vs Daniel Cordova 

*Troubles watching on ESPN3?  Gather more info on how to tune in via your smart device, smart TV, Xbox, Amazon Fire TV, Roku and more, go to http://www.espn.com/watch/.  Streaming info on ESPN is found here:  https://goo.gl/KGBuzT.

**WPH Patreon Supporters have alternative viewing options that will be posted each day; plus exclusive player interviews, and more!  www.patreon.com/wphlive


. . and Breaking Down Salt Lake City’s R48, WR48, and SR48 Elite

Salt Lake City, UT, WPH Press, 5/17/19-

Day 1: Friday

The eighth WPH Player’s Championship kicked off of Friday at the Sports Mall just outside of Salt Lake City, with the world’s best handball players colliding in the opening rounds of the WPH’s marquee event.

R48 Qualifier

15-time R48 champion Paul Brady headlined the 2019 Player’s Championship qualifier, aiming to become the second qualifier to win a R48 title (Brady, ’17). R48 top 20 stars Jonathan Iglesias, Shorty Ruiz, Peter Funchion, Leo Canales, Jr., Abraham Montijo, Loren Collado, Stephen Cooney, Max Langmack, and Martin Mulkerrins joined “The Gunner” in Salt Lake’s loaded qualifier draw.

Top-seeded SLC qualifier Jonathan Iglesias routed rising R48 star Ricardo Palma to qualifier, while Paul Brady cruised past Denver’s Armando Ibarra, Peter Funchion overcame Aces Team member Rob Bell, Leo Canales, Jr. overpowered George Garcia, Jr., and Martin Mulkerrins dominated Loren Collado. Abraham Montijo was forced to default against Sean Kerr with back spasms.

Niall O’Connor offered the biggest upset of the morning, ending Shorty Ruiz’s streak of 14 consecutive qualifier final wins, defeating Ruiz with 12 ace serves to the left and capitalizing on Ruiz’s errors to qualify for the first time.

Ireland’s Fergal Coughlan Jr. was the Cinderella Story on Friday morning, upsetting R48 #17 Max Langmack in the qualifier’s opening round and dismantling R48 #18 Stephen Cooney to qualify for the first time.

R48 Qualifier Finals

Iglesias def Palma 25-16

O’Connor def Ruiz 25-16

Brady def Ibarra 25-5

Pet. Funchion def Bell 25-8

Canales, Jr. def Garcia 25-10

Kerr def Montijo inj. fft.

Mulkerrins def Collado 25-6

Coughlan def Cooney 25-11

R48 Round of 16

Killian Carroll was solid is his opening round win against countryman Fergal Coughlan, ending the 23-minute match with five ace serves and a first-strike kill in the last six rallies of the match.

Sean Lenning overcame a bad back and a slow start to oust Niall O’Connor, while Danos Cordova also overcame a slow start to eliminate the 2018 USHA and GAA 19-and-under junior champion Sean Kerr. Danos outscored Kerr 25-7 after falling behind 10-5 in game one to cruise in two games.

Lucho Cordova played 2018 All Ireland 40×20 champion Martin Mulkerrins for the first round in the opening round clash. Mulkerrins blitzed Lucho in game one but could not sustain his form in game two, as Lucho forced a tiebreaker in dominant fashion. Lucho led 9-8 in the third game when Mulkerrins appeared to hit the wall, failing to score another point. “It’s one of them things,” stated Mulkerrins. “The breaks went his way and I just sort of ran out of energy.”

David Fink entered his round of 16 matchup with Leo Canales, Jr. sporting a perfect 4-0 record against the 2018 USHA collegiate national champion. Canales attacked Fink in game one, pushing Fink into the back court and dominating the action. Fink regrouped in the second and third games, building 12-1 leads in both games and advancing to Saturday’s quarterfinals.

Vic Perez and Peter Funchion played for the first time and staged the longest match of the day. Perez led 12-3 in all three games and nearly dropped the first, did drop the second, and squashed a late Funchion rally late in the third to advance to his eighth quarterfinal of the season. With the win, Perez achieved the “Funchion Slam,” defeating the Funchion brothers in back-to-back stops.

Paul Brady had little difficulty defeating SR48 #2 Marcos Chavez, showing off his vaunted power and court coverage to advance.

Emmett Peixoto and Jonathan Iglesias waged a war in the final R48 round of 16 match. Peixoto was in rare form in game one, crushing the Colorado star 15-5. Tied at 11 55 minutes into game two, Peixoto was in dire straights. After numerous 25+ shots rallies, nine hinder calls and a referee change, Peixoto served for the match at 14-13. “The Rock” lined up an overhand spike kill in the right corner for the match but came up three inches short. Iglesias seized the opening, forcing overtime and allowing Peixoto just two more points in the match. “I still have it, I just don’t have the endurance,” lamented Peixoto.

R48 Round of 16 Finals

Carroll vs. Coughlan 15-4, 15-3

Lenning def O’Connor 15-13, 15-4

Danos def Kerr 15-11, 15-6

Lucho def Mulkerrins 7-15, 15-3, 15-8

Fink def Canales, Jr. 6-15, 15-4, 15-5

Perez def Pet. Funchion 15-11, 13-15, 15-9

Brady def Chavez 15-5, 15-3

Iglesias def Peixoto 5-15, 16-14, 15-2


The WR48 kicked off the sixth WR48 Player’s Championship, as the field was narrowed to eight. Future Hall of Famer Jenny Schmitt ousted Jean Kastner, while the WR48 Irish contingent of Fionna Tully, Megan McCann, and Aoife McCarthy dominated en route to Saturday’s quarterfinals.

Round of 16

Schmitt def Kastner

Tully def Shepherd

McCann def Moler 16-14, 15-8

McCarthy def Hughes

Round of 8 (Saturday)

Casey vs. Schmitt 9 am (MST)

Tully vs. Davis 9:45 am (MST)

McMahon vs. McCann 11:15 am (MST)

Ni Churraoin vs. McCarthy 10:30 am (MST)

Thursday Field Trip to Park City!

Race 4 Eight stars and the Aces Team headed to beautiful Park City for the third Race 4 Eight Thursday Field Trip of the season. The Race 4 Eight Field Trip tradition kicked off in the French Quarter in New Orleans in February, docked at Alcatraz in San Francisco in March, and enjoyed the beautiful scenery and cuisine in Park City and the site of the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics just before the 2019 Player’s Championship. Thank you to Ruben Garza and Lon Stalsberg for a tour of one of the coolest ski towns in the country!

2019 Salt Lake City Aces R48/WR48/SR48 Full Player Preview HERE

2019 Salt Lake City Aces Player’s Championship press release HERE

Follow the brackets & starting times for the 2019 Aces Player’s Championship HERE

2019 Aces Player’s Championship Broadcast Schedule on ESPN3: Saturday, May 18, 10 am-7 pm MST, Sunday, May 19, 10 am-1:30 pm MST. Watch ESPN3 HERE

Become a WPH Patreon HERE

2018/19 Race 4 Eight stats HERE

2018/19 Race 4 Eight Preview HERE

2017/18 R48 and WR48 Match Analytics HERE

Handball Terminology + Instruction and R48 Rules HERE

Race 4 Eight Pro Player Bios HERE

WPH Power Rankings HERE

DF’s R48 Fun Facts and Trends HERE

Race 4 Eight History of Champions and Finalists HERE

WPH RACE 4 EIGHT: The World Players of Handball’s 2018/19 Race 4 Eight 8 Powered by ESPN features R48 stops in Georgia, Arizona, Oregon, Montana, Louisiana, and California, all culminating with The Player’s Championship in Utah in May of 2019. Similar to NASCAR’s Nextel Cup and the FedEx PGA Playoffs, players earn points in the Race 4 Eight’s regular season stops to qualify for the season-ending Player’s Championship and bonus prizes.

For more information on the WPH Race 4 Eight, please contact World Players of Handball Executive Director David Vincent at dave.vincent@wphlive.tv or World Players of Handball Development Director David Fink at david.fink@wphlive.tv. For more information on the World Players of Handball, please visit wphlive.tv

Support the WPH and inspiring the next generation of players by becoming a WPH Patreon. Enjoy never before seen videos, pro commentary, special awards, Sports Casts archives and new episodes, live broadcasts, and much more. Become a WPH Patreon HERE

Broadcast Schedule: Watch on ESPN3 & the WatchESPN App! May 17th-19th



Sunday, May 19th – Times are local (MDT) ESPN Broadcast Window:  9a-1p *Later matches could be moved, re-arranged, etc

9:00am – Sr 40+ Men’s Final – David Fink vs Marcos Chavez

9:45am – Aces Open Final – Stephen Cooney vs Loren Collado

10:45am – Women’s Pro Final –  Martina McMahon vs Catriona Casey

11:45am – Men’s Pro Final – Killian Carroll vs Daniel Cordova (TBD)

*Troubles watching on ESPN3?  Gather more info on how to tune in via your smart device, smart TV, Xbox, Amazon Fire TV, Roku and more, go to http://www.espn.com/watch/.  Streaming info on ESPN is found here:  https://goo.gl/KGBuzT.

**WPH Patreon Supporters have alternative viewing options that will be posted each day; plus exclusive player interviews, and more!  www.patreon.com/wphlive

Please consider a donation to help us with this live broadcast.  Funding for this event comes solely from membership and donation dollars.  The World Players of Handball not profiting from this broadcast and every dollar brought in gets us that much closer to ‘covering’ the cost to air the matches on ESPN.

Donations made by PayPal @ extremehandball@cs.com

Please always include your email address, name, and shipping details when making a donation.

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Or, go online to purchase your WPH Membership or to make a donation:  HERE>

…We really do appreciate and NEED your support!

Salt Lake City, UT, WPH Press, 5/15/19

The Race 4 Eight Elite will be in action this weekend at the WPH marquee event, the 2019 Aces Player’s Championship. Learn about your favorite Race for Eight stars in advance of this weekend’s season finale.


The 2018/19 R48 Men’s Pro season has featured five players winning R48 crystal and eight different finalists in eight events. “This has been the most exciting season in professional handball history with all of the great matches and different players winning,” stated the USHA’s Matt Krueger.

Breaking Down the Elite 8

Killian Carroll (#1) has maintained his R48 #1 ranking during the 2018/19 R48 season, winning two stops and appearing in four finals in his six starts. Carroll is the current World Champion and 3-time defending USHA National Champion and WPH Player’s Champion, making Carroll the undisputed #1 player in the sport

Sean Lenning (#2) has remained the R48 #2 on the heels of a dominant win at the 2018 Tucson Memorial (November) and finals appearances at the 2019 Montana Red Death and 2019 San Francisco. Lenning has looked unstoppable at times this season and will look to bring that dominant form to Salt Lake City, where he captured the 2015 R48 Player’s Championship on his 30th birthday.

Daniel Cordova (#3) has announced himself as one of the game’s elite this season, winning two titles (2018 Portland, 2019 R48LTE USHA/WPH Hall of Fame) and defeating every player in the Elite 8 during the season. Danos is currently tied for #3 on the R48 Power Rankings and will be seeded third at the Aces Player’s Championship by virtue of winning a coin flip.

Luis Cordova (#3) started the season at #6 and wasted little time climbing into the top three, clinching his maiden R48 title on his home court in Atlanta (October) and adding his second R48 victory at the 2019 New Orleans R48LTE (February). Lucho will be seeded fourth at the Aces Player’s Championship and comes into Salt Lake City in great form, having just defeated younger brother Danos to win the 2019 WPH/E4 Torneo de Juarez and Tallcorn Regionals on back-to-back weekends in late April/early May

David Fink (#5) has notched wins this season against R48 top five stars Danos Cordova, Sean Lenning, and Vic Perez, while losing tiebreakers to Killian Carroll and Lucho Cordova. Fink advanced to his first final in 23 months at the 2019 R48LTE USHA/WPH Hall of Fame (March) and after dropping out of the top five midway through the season, climbed back into the top five with consecutive fifth place finishes in San Francisco (March) and New York (April).

Vic Perez (#6) advanced to the quarterfinals or better all seven of his R48 8 starts this season, including advancing to his first R48 final at the 2019 New Orleans R48LTE (February), ousting Danos Cordova in the semifinals. Perez’s consistency has bolstered the LAAC’s top star from #8 to #6 this season, as PVic has finished between seventh and second in his seven starts

Marcos Chavez (#7) continues to defy Father Time with an inspiring 2018/19 season that has seen the Southern California Handball Hall of Famer earn his way into the R48 Elite 8 for the first time. Chavez boasts impressive wins this season against Peter Funchion, Emmett Peixoto, David Fink, and Shorty Ruiz, while nearly defeating Vic Perez and Lucho Cordova. Known for his back wall prowess, Chavez enters the Aces Player’s Championship at a career-best #7

Emmett Peixoto (#8) has dropped from #6 at the start of the season to #8 entering the Player’s Championship, largely due to dropping three close tiebreakers (Chavez, Portland ’18, L. Cordova, Montana ’19, Ruiz, San Francisco ’19) that have cost him valuable R48 ranking points. Peixoto will aim to bounce back in Salt Lake City, a venue that saw him nearly push Paul Brady to a tiebreaker several years ago

R48 Aces Player’s Championship Qualifier

The qualifier field in Salt Lake City is loaded with a mix of young talent and experienced veterans intent on crashing into the Elite 8.

Breaking Down the Aces Player’s Championship Qualifier

Jonathan Iglesias (#10) advanced to the quarterfinals at the R48 8 Portland (December) by defeating David Fink and currently sits at #10, his highest R48 ranking since 2016. Iglesias’ blend of outdoor and indoor skills makes “Churches” a very difficult matchup for any pro. Churches will be aiming to crack the Elite 8 for the first time since 2016

Shorty Ruiz (#11) will be seeking his 14th straight qualifier in Salt Lake City, a record-streak that started in the spring of 2017. Ruiz’s best finish of the season came in his last start in San Francisco, overcoming match point against the 13-time Olympic Club champion Emmett Peixoto on his home court to take seventh. Ruiz currently sits at #11. Ruiz is the three-time 3WallBall 3-Wall singles world champion and has all of skills to become one of the best indoors as well

Paul Brady: “The Gunner” enters his second consecutive R48 stop on the heels of winning his 15th R48 title at the NYAC in April. Brady was his usual dominating self in New York, crushing the game’s best with ease en route to his fifth title in the Big Apple. Brady is the only player to have qualified in a R48 stop and won that stop (NYAC ’17). Don’t be surprised to see Brady do the same in Salt Lake City this year, as Brady aims for his second Player’s Championship title

Leo Canales, Jr. (#12): The 2018 USHA collegiate national champion has enjoyed a breakthrough season with wins against Mando Ortiz, Jonathan Iglesias, and Shorty Ruiz. Canales has moved up 15 ranking spots thus far this season, currently sitting at a career-best #12. Canales is the youngest player in the R48 top 15 and appears to be on the road to the Elite 8

Peter Funchion (#12) possesses the elite skills to beat virtually anyone on tour, as evidenced by R48 wins against Emmett Peixoto, Marcos Chavez, and Danos Cordova. Funchion pushed R48 #1 Killian Carroll to the limit in game one of their clash in San Francisco before falling in two games, then dominating the ninth place playoffs

Abraham Montijo (#14) is one game’s steadiest players, armed with a tremendous serve and revolving door back wall kill. Montijo has been plagued by injuries in the past two seasons but appears to be healthy now, a dangerous proposition for the tour

Loren Collado (#16) has been steadily improving, adding shots and wins to his CV. Collado currently sits at #16 on the tour. Collado plays a “throwback” game that relies on percentage shot making and punishing his opponent’s mistakes. The Olympic Club sponsored Collado will be aiming for his first main draw R48 win of his career in Salt Lake City

Max Langmack (#17): Known affectionately as “TGG,” the tallest pro handball player in history (6’9) is one of the game’s most exciting players. Langmack is always willing to sacrifice his body for any ball, a quality that nearly ended his season in San Francisco, as TGG crashed into the back wall and dislocated his finger. Langmack appears to be recovered and will aim to continue his march into the game’s elite in Salt Lake

Martin Mulkerrins (#18): Mulkerrins is unquestionably one of the world’s best players, as evidenced by winning the 2018 All Ireland 40×20 Championships, holding the Irish #1 ranking throughout much of 2018, and appearing in the 2018 World Championship final. For whatever reason, Mulkerrins has yet to make his mark on the R48, an anomaly that will undoubtedly change in the near future

Stephen Cooney (#18): The “Coon Dogg” serves as the NYAC’s Vic President of handball, and when not presiding over his NYAC ambassador duties, can be seen barking his way to scrappy victories on the R48. Cooney has been earned an Elite 8 invite during his six-year R48 career and has qualified at a higher percentage than any qualifier in history.

Sean Kerr (#22): Kerr is an Irish junior prodigy and the youngest member of the R48 top 30. Kerr qualified twice this season, overcoming Canada’s Ryan Bowler in Montana and erasing a 6-19 deficit in a one game match to 25 against Loren Collado on Collado’s home court in San Francisco to qualify for a second time.

The Aces Player’s Championship qualifier starts on Friday morning at 8 am MST. The R48 main draw will commence early on Friday afternoon.


The 2019 Aces Player’s Championship features the 20th stop in the history of the WR48, dating back to the inaugural WR48 event at the 2013 Simple Green U.S. Open. The WR48  Salt Lake City ‘19 features five ranked WR48 stars, highlighted by 17-time WR48 champion and WR48 #1 Catriona Casey.

Catriona Casey will face one of the best WR48 fields in the 20-event, six-year history of the WR48 tour in Salt Lake City, as current Women’s World Champion Martina McMahon will make her first start on the WR48 since winning the Tucson Memorial in November of 2017, while WR48 #2 Ciana Ni Churraoin will be aiming for her first WR48 title after advancing to the finals of the first two WR48 starts of the season.

Top U.S. WR48 stars Tracy Davis, Ashley Moler, and Jenny Schmitt will be aiming to defend the American flag, with each superstar trying to become the first American-born WR48 champion.

Breaking down the WR48

Catriona Casey (#1): Casey brings a 58-2 WR48 match record and 17 WR48 titles in 19 WR48 events to the 2019 WR48 Aces Player’s Championship and will be the prohibitive favorite in Salt Lake City. Casey will be seeking her sixth consecutive WR48 Player’s Championship in a year that has already seen Casey win the 2019 WR48 San Francisco and 2019 All Ireland 40×20 singles and doubles crowns

Martina McMahon: McMahon is the current Women’s 4-Wall World Champion, having authored one of the greatest single seasons in handball history in 2018, winning the 2018 All Ireland 40×20 Championships, the 1-Wall World Championship, the 4-Wall singles and doubles World Championship, and the All Ireland 60×30 Championships. McMahon is one of three women to have won a WR48 title (Casey, Reilly), having won her last WR48 start at the 2017 Tucson Memorial, defeating Casey in the final. A Casey/McMahon finals showdown would be must-see, but 2M will have to make her way through a very difficult Salt Lake draw that includes Ni Churraoin to advance to the final

Ciana Ni Churraoin (#2): CNC has announced herself as one of Catriona Casey’s greatest challengers on the WR48, pushing Casey to a tiebreaker in her first WR48 final in the 2017 WR48 NYAC final and nearly forcing a third game at the 2018 WR48 Tucson Memorial final (November). CNC added her second WR48 final of the season and third overall at the 2019 San Francisco, defeating two-time world champion Aisling Reilly en route to the final. CNC is the current USHA collegiate national champion and WR48 #2

Tracy Davis (#3): Davis is a living legend who continues to add to her legacy at 42 years of age. Davis owns more than 40 national pro championships and currently sits at #3 on the WR48, a testament to her skill and dedication

Fionna Tully (#4): Tully burst onto the WR48 tour with a sensational run to the semifinals of the 2019 WR48 San Francisco, overcoming former WR48 semifinalist Danielle Daskalakis in a match-of-the-year candidate in the round of 16 and ousting Ashley Moler in the quarterfinals before losing to Casey. Look for Tully to become a mainstay in the WR48 top four

Ashley Moler (#6): Moler is a former college softball star who brings tremendous athletic ability to the WR48. Moler recently won 2019 USHA Women’s Classic (March) in dominating fashion and currently holds the WR48 #6 ranking

Jenny Schmitt: Schmitt continues to play top ball into her 50’s, as evidenced by her dominating win at the first WR48 Pre Qualifier in Austin in early April. Schmitt’s two-handed offensive attack poses problems for all of the top ladies, as this future USHA Hall of Famer will aim to continue to defy Father Time in her first Player’s Championship

Can Cianna break through? Can Martina snap Casey’s streak of five consecutive Player’s Championships? Can an American win a WR48 event for the first time?


The SR48 wraps up its seventh SR48 season, with only Marcos Chavez, Andy Schad, and Gavin Buggy having captured a SR48 Player’s Championship. Chavez enters Salt Lake in search of his fifth SR48 Player’s Championship and third in a row but will have to overcome a strong field of SR pros.

David Fink (#1): Fink has won four of his five SR48 starts since making his SR debut at the 2018 SR48 Las Vegas. Fink has been especially commanding on the SR48 tour this season, scooping titles in Tucson and New Orleans in dominant fashion.  Fink has young legs and is the most aggressive player on tour (any skill level).

Marcos Chavez (#2): Chavez is the four-time SR48 Player’s Champion, with 10 SR48 titles overall. Chavez has lost in the finals in four of his last five SR48 starts, but always peaks for the Player’s Championship. The R48 #7 and SR48 #2 has his sites set on the 2019 SR48 Championship belt.

George Garcia, Jr.: GGJ is one of the game’s most explosive players, capable of ending rallies from anywhere on the court with any swing with either hand. GGJ has finished 6th and 3rd in his two SR48 starts this season and will be aiming for his first career SR48 title in Salt Lake

The SR48’s top three will have to contend with not only one another, but also SR48 Salt Lake City contenders Chris Watkins (CA), Kevin Price (CO), Pete Papathemetrios (CA), Jim Karner (UT), and Joe Leonis (NV).

ESPN3 2019 San Francisco Broadcast Schedule:

Friday, May 17, 1 pm-6 pm MST

Saturday, May 18, 10 am-7 pm MST

Sunday, May 19, 10 am-1:30 pm MST


2019 Salt Lake City Aces Player’s Championship press release HERE

Become a WPH Patreon HERE

2018/19 Race 4 Eight Elite Stats HERE

David Fink

WPH Senior Writer


Broadcast Schedule: Watch on ESPN3 & the WatchESPN App! May 17th-19th


May 17-19, 2019


You can watch this event on ESPN3 & WatchESPN App (click ESPN3 under the “All Networks” drop down)

Friday, May 17th – Times are local (MDT) ESPN Broadcast Window:  1p-6p *Later matches could be moved, re-arranged, etc

1:00pm – 4:00pm  Select Men’s Rd of 16 Matches TBD

4:00pm  Select Women’s Rd of 16 Match (Kastner vs Schmitt)

4:45pm  Select Senior 40+ Men Rd of 8 (Price vs Watkins)

Saturday, May 18th – Times are local (MDT) ESPN Broadcast Window:  9a-6p *Later matches could be moved, re-arranged, etc

9:00am-12:15pm – Men’s Rd of 8 Matches

12:15pm-2:15pm – Sr 40+ Men’s Semis

2:15pm-3:45pm – Women’s Pro Semis

3:45-6:00pm – Men’s Elite Semis

Sunday, May 19th – Times are local (MDT) ESPN Broadcast Window:  9a-1p *Later matches could be moved, re-arranged, etc

9:00am – Sr 40+ Men’s Final

9:45am – Aces Open Final

10:45am – Women’s Pro Final

11:45am – Men’s Pro Final

*Troubles watching on ESPN3?  Gather more info on how to tune in via your smart device, smart TV, Xbox, Amazon Fire TV, Roku and more, go to http://www.espn.com/watch/.  Streaming info on ESPN is found here:  https://goo.gl/KGBuzT.

**WPH Patreon Supporters having alternative viewing options that will be posted each day; plus exclusive player interviews, and more!  www.patreon.com/wphlive

Please consider a donation to help us with this live broadcast.  Funding for this event comes solely from membership and donation dollars.  The World Players of Handball not profiting from this broadcast and every dollar brought in gets us that much closer to ‘covering’ the cost to air the matches on ESPN.

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